May 25, 2006

Court Reporter

It is said that, in America, Justice is blind. According to my understanding of history, which I'm totally making up here as I go, the parents of Justice noticed their little girl wasn't developing normally, and often stared blankly into space. So, they took Justice to an eye doctor in 1803 and, after a series of tests—including asking Justice to follow a pen with her eyes—the doctor proclaimed Justice to be legally blind.

Ever the optimist who saw the innocence in everyone, Justice persevered and, in 1818, she entered law school and graduated at the top of her class four years later. During the graduation party, Justice had a little too much to drink, and she stumbled into a science classroom, where her friends later found her, disoriented and clutching a pair of scales used for measuring chemicals. The image stuck, and so today we see the familiar statues of a blindfolded Justice holding a pair of scales.

Okay, all silliness aside, I'm not sure if Justice is really blind. However, after serving on jury duty this week, I highly suspect Justice is, indeed, 100 percent legally blind, because that would certainly explain why she moves so incredibly slow—she's afraid of bumping into things.

I have to admit to not being a particularly good potential juror. Things started off shaky last week when I forgot to report for jury duty and the court had to call me at work. Somehow, showing up almost five hours late for jury duty probably didn't reflect too well on my dedication to this most serious of citizen responsibilities.

Nevertheless, after about 20 minutes of sitting around not doing anything all that productive, I was ushered—along with about 30 other potential jurors—upstairs to a courtroom, where a criminal case was going to be tried. The judge then read off a list of names and, one by one, those called walked to the jury box. I found this to be particularly disconcerting. After my name was read and I starting walking to the jury box, I felt strangely guilty and nervous. To have my name announced aloud like that by a judge put me in a defensive state of mind, as if I were suddenly on trial for something and had to make my case quickly and convincingly or face The Chair.

The judge informed us that we were now "Jurors In The Box," which struck me as funny for some reason and eased my nerves. I amused myself by coming up with stupid mental jokes like "how am I supposed to think outside of this box?"

Eventually, the attorney for the accused stood up and announced she would be asking us a series of questions intended to gauge our individual fitness to sit on that particular jury. I was expecting a line of pointed and probing questioning that would really test me, so I was a little bit surprised when the attorney asked "what do you think of the concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty?'"

What kind of a question is that? I mean, the answer appeared to me to be so painfully obvious, I briefly considered answering it completely opposite of what I thought, something along the lines of:

"I think ‘innocent until proven guilty' is the worst basis on which to build a justice system. Hang ‘em all high, I say, and pick the innocent corpses out later. No one's really, TRULY, innocent anyway. Am I right or am I right? Who's with me?! Let's charge the judge's desk! Yee-argh!"

The jury selection process took up the better part of three hours, during which time my adult ADD tended to make me pay attention to everything BUT my jury duty. Then, to my complete disbelief, I was actually picked to sit on that jury. I must have unknowingly answered all the questions far better than I thought I did. At any rate, we were instructed to appear for the trial the next morning at 9 a.m.

Come 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, my fellow jurors and I sat in the jury room waiting. And waiting. And then we waited some more while anticipating more waiting. Finally, over an hour later, we were called into the courtroom, where the judge informed us that the defendant had changed his plea to "guilty" and that we wouldn't be needed for that trial after all. So, it was back to the jury pool for me.

Now, as an experienced jury duty professional, I can confidently state one thing for certain: juror chairs are really comfortable.

Posted by Ryan at May 25, 2006 09:05 AM | TrackBack

So what did he do?

Posted by: simon at May 26, 2006 03:52 AM

Two counts of stalking; one count of violating a restraining order. Not sure what his plea bargain was.

Posted by: Ryan at May 26, 2006 07:26 AM

damn, that would have been a good one...I always wonder what they are thinking and how they get to that point.

Posted by: donna at May 27, 2006 10:11 AM

Me too, it's an odd mindset - d'you think it was 'hiding in the bushes' stalking, or just an ex that wouldn't let go?

Anyway, am I correct in believing that now you've been selected for jury duty you won't ever get called up again? If that's the case you got off easy. Just think, you could've been there for 2 years of a corporate fraud or tax evasion case.

Posted by: simon at May 27, 2006 08:46 PM

Simon, I'm still on call for jury duty the rest of next week. After that, there's a certain amount of time (I think 2 years), where you shouldn't be called again. After that, well, you're back on the jury pool list.

Posted by: Ryan at May 28, 2006 11:58 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!